Children's Literature · Modern Fantasy · Review

The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Spiderwick Chronicles 1Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: 2003
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy
Pages: 107
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

The three Grace children—Mallory, Jared, and Simon—and their mother move to Aunt Lucinda’s house. Mallory, Simon, and Jared uncover a nest of odds and ends and a hidden library. This leads to a series of mean pranks with no one to blame. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black is a fast read with an edge of mystery and magic.

After Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, my grandmother gave me The Field Guide because it was a recommended book for Harry Potter fans, but I didn’t read it and eventually gave it away. I bought it at a book sale a month ago, thinking I would give it a try. It’s an okay read. I would not have liked it when I was younger.

The characters are distinct, but I saw little development or description. The characters don’t change over the course of the book. Worse, they receive little description beyond which is older, which two are twins, and what their hobbies are. You have to heavily rely on the illustrations to get the description of the characters’ appearances. Maybe this is more necessary in children’s books, but I found it hard to picture any of them without the illustrations. A few descriptive words would have provided enough detail for me, but there were none. The only character that gets such a description is a magical creature, and I would have liked to learn more about the magical creatures.

The plot and setting rely on the tried-and-true creepy house where bad things happen. It’s okay, and I know many kids love that setting. The plot and setting are dry and overdone for this reader. It seems to fall under that bad things are happening, but it’s easier to blame the problem child.

I like the feel of this tiny, hardback book in my tiny hands. The deckle edges of the pages fit the setting and mystery. It’s a piece of nostalgia from childhood to hold a book that size.

There isn’t enough meat in this book for me, but I am not the audience for this book. It’s targeted at children ages seven and up. I think The Field Guide will receive the best love from children ten and under.

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